Show Less
Restricted access

Describing Who?

Poland in Photographs by Jewish Artists


Joanna Auron-Gorska

«Describing Who?» reveals the significance of photographs taken in contemporary Poland by professional American, French and Israeli Jewish photographers. Writing critically from the vantage point of her Polish and Jewish background, Joanna Auron-Górska argues that while visual representations of Poland and the Poles may appear atemporal, they are neither ahistorical nor apolitical. They are, instead, influenced by the culturally conditioned construct within which Poland serves to maintain the memory of the Shoah, by war trauma, and by post-war politics. The attitudes of foreign Western Jewry to non-Jewish Poles and Poland have so far received limited scholarship; this analysis is a contribution towards enlightening the conversation between Poles and Jews from outside of Poland.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Chapter 15. Poland Freed



Leonard Freed’s Czechoslovakia & Poland. Vestige of Judaism in Eastern Europe documents the oftentimes ignored revival of Jewish community in Eastern Europe. Unlike the vast majority of western Jewish photographers, Freed does not focus on the Shoah or its aftermath; his Poland is neither symbolic nor imaginary. Neither is it a space in which a spectacle of traumatic events must constantly be played out; and if there is in this Poland a stage, it is only in so far as ordinary, everyday life is one. The intimacy, objectivity and humour of Freed’s gaze prove that Poland in Jewish photography does not have to be a tool for restaging the spectacle of trauma. His is a Poland liberated from the dominant pattern of representation.

In contrast to his previous reports from Poland, which dealt with the religious and secular life of all its inhabitants, during his 1994 trip Freed was to portray a select group – the Polish Jews. Images showing the latter, published as part of this project on the Magnum website, are showcased with a few photographs of Polish streets. Following his 1994 project was a series of photographs from the German-Polish border (1996). But Freed’s interest in Polish realities dates back to the year 1973. Among his photographs from the 70s released by the Magnum Agency website there is an image of serious children from a Warsaw nursery school, a photograph showing the busy work of rebuilding the landscape of the old town in Gdansk,...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.